A History Lesson

Wednesday, March 20, 2013


"What I remember most about my own high school history classes are the ancient Egyptians, the Greeks and Romans," I said. "Alexander the Great, Cleopatra, Julius Caesar, Hannibal, the Trojan Horse, the elephants marching across the Alps, the sea battles, the gladiatorial contests, the chariot races, the spectacular murders and suicides, the eruption of Vesuvius. But on the other hand, also the beauty, the beauty of all those temples and arenas and amphitheaters, the frescoes, the baths, the mosaics. That's the kind of beauty that lasts forever. Those are the colors that make us prefer a holiday on the Mediterranean to Manchester or Bremen, even today."
~ Paul Lohman in The Dinner by Herman Koch, 
translated from the Dutch by Sam Garrett


That passage sent me on a nostalgic trip through my school days. History was definitely one of my favorite subjects at school, even though I abandoned it in High School. All those wars and conquests and kings and princesses! I can say for sure that the lessons I most enjoyed learning and even remember mostly today are those from my history classes (except, of course, all that memorizing of the dates).

How about you? Did you ever enjoy history in school?

Oh, and The Dinner? You just should. read. it. - this book is just fantabulous!


7 comments:

Tina Reed said...

I have The Dinner!! I will be reading it over Spring Break. Maybe. I will be reading Wind-Up Bird too so okay, maybe right after break.

I liked history in school but I liked studying all of the explorers.

Juju at Tales of Whimsy.com said...

I didn't enjoy it in school. I was young silly and thought, "Who cares?" I wish I could go back and retake those classes. I need to learn more history. Great post.

zibilee said...

I have The Dinner on audio, and I am about to get to it, very soon! I didn't like history in school because it was so formal, dry and boring, but I LOVE historical fiction and prefer it to any other genre.

feminist texican said...

I really want to read this, and my library actually has it! I just keep hearing so many great things.


I love history...majored in it!

Helen Murdoch said...

I did not enjoy history in school, precisely because we memorized dates and didn't learn "stories". In college it got better as I branched out to Holocaust history and other more interesting subjects beyond the survey level. And then I earned a Masters in History (go figure!) and ended up teaching high school history for 15 years. I always tried to make history interesting, as I told my students: "history is just gossip about people you don't know."

Care said...

I enjoyed history but thought we spent way to much time on The Revolutionary War and US-focused stuff. And I wanted to learn about Vietnam but it was 'too recent' and I guess they didn't have the text books. We never got past WW2.


I didn't care for The Dinner. Too devoid of hope and redemption, I think.

Lisa Sheppard said...

I loved history but then my dad was a high school history teacher so I was raised to love it. In my high school, we got to pick the history subjects we wanted to take - for example I took had a quarter of U.S. Civil War - but we had to take 8 total. Loved that.